I was going to do a “top 11 of 2011″ post, but now that we’re a couple of days into January 2012, I’m thinking you’ve probably read your fill of those and are ready to move on. I was also thinking about sharing some of my goals for 2012, but I fear you’d find them yawn-worthy.

So I’ve got some soup instead.

I made this silky Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup for our Thanksgiving dinner, and it garnered rave reviews from everyone at the table. The accolades that meant the most came from my 9 year old daughter- she said it was “one of her most favorite soups ever”- so I knew I’d be making it again. And I did…a few times this winter so far.

This soup is adapted from the Brilliant Butternut Bisque in From the Cook’s Garden: Recipes for Cooks Who Like to Garden, Gardeners Who Like to Cook, and Everyone Who Wishes They Had a Garden. The book is a favorite of mine, and it did not disappoint here. The bones of my recipe are similar to those in the book, but I did make a couple of changes like using parsnips in place of carrots. I also lightened it quite a bit by replacing most of the half-and-half with homemade stock, then added back in a smaller amount of cream.

It occurs to me as I write this that some folks might balk at the fact that this soup contains heavy cream. Cream? On a healthy recipes blog? Isn’t that too decadent? Especially for early January, when our meals are “supposed to be” austere?

Please don’t be put off by adding the organic cream or coconut milk. Besides adding richness to certain dishes, these good quality sources of fat are essential for helping your body absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in vegetables like winter squash, carrots, and parsnips.

So this soup is not just comforting and delicious, it’s nutrient-dense. And it’s always been my goal to bring you recipes that are all of those things in just about every post, early January or not :)

May you be nourished and satisfied today…and all year long.

Recipe for Maple Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

Yield: serves 6-8

Choosing organic ingredients ensures your soup will be the healthiest it can be.

Ingredients:

*2 tablespoons butter
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 leeks, bottom parts only, cleaned well and coarsely chopped
*2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and minced
*about 6 cups peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
*2 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped (or use carrots)
*1 cup dry white wine (ex. Chardonnay)
*6-8 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade (or use vegetable stock or water or a combination of stock and water)
*1/2 cup cream or whole (not "lite") coconut milk
*1/2 cup pure maple syrup
*Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.

2. Add squash and parsnips and cook for another few minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until it has all but evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the stock and/or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30- 40 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat.

4. Purée the soup using an immersion blender or, if you do not have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool a bit before transferring it in batches to process in a blender or food processor. Return puréed soup to the pot and add cream or coconut milk and maple syrup. Heat over low heat until warmed through, adding more cream or stock, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

End of 2011/Beginning of 2012 posts from other blogs that I love:

Pumpkin Lasagna from Cake Duchess
I Want to Matter from Salty Seattle
Going Quiet from Gluten-Free Girl
Wellness Goals for 2012 from Daily Bites Blog
New Year from Nicole Franzen
Looking Back, Looking Forward from Merry Gourmet
Food For Thought from Sass and Veracity
My Resolutions for 2012 from Spain in Iowa